More than fish: Policy coherence and benefit sharing as necessary conditions for equitable aquaculture development
2020 Aquaculture development is part of the Blue Economy narrative and it may offer opportunities for improving the well-being of coastal people and the wider population. However, unlocking its full potential is unlikely to occur through sole focus on increasing production. Using a framework for identifying the "people-policy gap" in aquaculture as a starting point, we introduce benefit sharing as a necessary and complementary concept to filling this gap, as well as the notion of policy coherence to achieve equitable aquaculture development. We examine these concepts in the context of mariculture development through an analysis of national mariculture policies and plans from a selection of Western Indian Ocean (WIO) countries. Our analysis shows that whilst important building blocks and a common thrust for equitable mariculture development exist at regional level, mechanisms through which the benefits from mariculture development are to reach stakeholders affected directly and indirectly by mariculture operations at national levels are not adequately considered. Lack of policy coherence at national level not only prevents progress towards closing the "people-policy gap" in mariculture development, but it may also jeopardise how the sector can live up to its expectations in the region. On the basis of these considerations, we extend our reflection to the aquaculture sector as a whole and argue that policy coherence and benefit sharing should become key considerations in the planning and future development of sustainable and equitable aquaculture.